Norway has transported Ukrainian patients to various European countries for medical treatment as the war has so far registered 1,000 attacks on Ukraine’s health sector.
In response to a request from the EU, the Norwegian government, thanks to its partnership with Scandinavian Airlines (SA), has extended this medical evacuation operation until February 2024.
“Many Ukrainians are in need of life-saving medical treatment. I am pleased that Norway is now extending the agreement with SA and the EU to transport Ukrainian patients to Norway and other European countries for medical care,’ Norway’s Prime Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, stated.
Since the operation started in August 2022, Norway has helped to transport over 1,500 people (patients and family members). The EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) co-ordinates the effort and the EU has asked Norway to extend the transport agreement with Scandinavian Airlines.
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A long-term agreement between the Norwegian Armed Forces and SA has made it possible to convert an ordinary airliner into a functioning air ambulance. SA operates and pilots the aircraft, and the Norwegian Armed Forces Joint Medical Services provide the medical and operational expertise.
The Norwegian government transports patients of all ages to the medical hub in Poland. The government then sends the patients to hospitals in Europe for treatment. The majority of these are patients suffering from cancer or injuries, but there are also patients with infections and other medical conditions.
Pan-European collaboration on Ukrainian medical care
The EU has transferred more than 2,000 Ukrainian patients to receive specialised care in hospitals across Europe since March 2023.
They have transferred patients to hospitals in 20 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.
While Norway spearheaded the medical evacuation of patients, other European countries have provided other medical services too.
Germany, Iceland, Estonia and Spain have donated field hospitals to Ukraine. This support includes two Forward Surgical Team stations worth €8m ($8.7m) from the German defence company Rheinmetall, funded by the German government.
Other countries have transferred critical medical knowledge and skills. The UK Ministry of Defence announced on 24 June that the British Army and its partners from the Netherlands and Iceland are training Ukrainian combat medics in a first of its kind programme. The first of three cohorts of approximately 50 Ukrainian defence personnel began the five week combat medic course on 29 May.